Bellerin must not be made the scapegoat for Pepe’s failings

Don’t Blame Bellerin For Pepe by Dan Smith

Our fanbase love a scapegoat, don’t we? We forced Arsene Wenger out of the club. Things didn’t get better, yet we arrogantly thought we were too good for Ramsey. We now don’t have any goals from midfield.

Both Xhaka and Mustafi have been verbally abused so much, they have come out and spoken about how it’s affected them mentally.

Now it seems the reason we are 10th in the League is Ozil’s fault, despite long periods under Emery, and now Arteta, the midfielder was not always playing. It’s also worth arguing if that’s the best man management strategy, giving a player mixed signals by freezing him out, then bringing him back in, then wondering why his confidence his low?

Isn’t a coach’s job to get the best out of an asset not just give up on him? Anyway, the idea is to get the World Cup winner so fed up that he will accept a move this summer, or he will, as his agent insists, run down his contract.

Either way, some Gooners are now looking for their latest person to blame, as they can only blame Ozil so much if we continue to lack creativity with him on the bench. You see there has to be a reason we are 10th. That’s their sense of entitlement. They can’t admit that we have gone backwards since Wenger left, because that would be some people admitting they were wrong abusing the greatest boss in our history.

I got mocked for the following….
Suggesting letting Ramsey leave on a free proved we were no longer a big club (we are worse in midfield without him).

That last summer was a terrible transfer window (we somehow weakened our centre backs options)

And that Emery and Arteta were cheap options.
Are Arsenal simply going for the cheap option in choosing Arteta?

Here’s my prediction….
When Ozil leaves we will sit and complain that there is zero creativity, yet won’t admit we were wrong again.

So, who’s the next person to blame? To mock on social media? To swear at? (then cry if he swears back at us). Step forward… Hector Bellerin.

The young Spaniard who moved to England at 16, who been in North London for 9 years, who’s essentially grown into a man at our club. He’s shown loyalty to us, you know that thing we accused the likes of Fabregas and Van Persie of not having.

When the full back was bursting down the wing in his first few years, we feared a bid from Barcelona or Real Madrid. At the time we asked for loyalty from the youngster. We are now not showing loyalty to him based on a long-term injury robbing him of his pace. Just think about that. All he’s done wrong is suffer an injury that has cost him his best weapon, and instead of sympathising, fans are ridiculing him?

Then in the same breath they hope Aubameyang will show commitment. Why would he if that’s how you treat his teammates? He’ll be thinking, ‘they love me now but if I hurt my knee, etc, they will quickly turn.’

That’s why I don’t feel sorry for all gooners concerning our plight. It’s fair to question if our full back can ever get back to where he was the quickest in training. It’s understandable to wonder is he’s stagnated and needs a fresh challenge.

If we got a decent offer for him it would be sensible to consider it if we can reinvest those funds. hat’s based on Bellerin’s own performances, what he does or doesn’t do. What’s not fair, is to make him responsible for the short comings of others. The latest narrative going around is the reason Pepe hasn’t been great is because the person behind him is not doing his job well enough.

It’s fair to question why Hector cuts back all the time and doesn’t take on his man but it’s so unfair to make him responsible for the shortcomings of others.
Again, it’s an agenda. Instead of fans admitting they were wrong last summer to overhype Pepe and accept we only got him because Lille agreed to a ridiculous payment plan, it’s easier to blame an easy target.
I don’t remember anyone saying, when we spent 72 million on the winger, claiming that he relies on his right back doing certain things for him to play well?

I’m not even sure I have had it tactically explained how Pepe is better or worse depending on if Bellerin starts or not? It’s not like Pepe is asked to ever abandon his attacking role.

It’s been suggested that Maitland-Niles will try to get to the bar line allowing Pepe to cut inside. I’m not sure effectively how much that happens?

Even if we accept that Bellerin isn’t taking on his marker, that wouldn’t stop Pepe from overlapping. It’s also simply not true.

Pepe has scored 4 times when starting with Bellerin, 3 with Maitland Niles, 1 with neither. He’s got 3 assists with Bellerin, 3 with MN and 3 with neither (most assists by set pieces). So, this idea that his game improves without Bellerin is simply not true.

Pepe’s final ball, the need to want too many touches, not showing up when it matters. That’s down to Pepe and no one else. Many readers wouldn’t dare suggest Ozil would be better in another team with better players so don’t make same excuse for Pepe.

At least tell the truth instead of making someone else the scapegoat….

Dan Smith


  1. I agree with you on Bellerin, after his long injuries he seems not to be taking risk anymore, the only real time he did was against Chelsea, so I hope he can get back to his best.
    On the overall heading, I disagree, why? Because I reckon we wouldn’t complain if our team do well, and all of us that moarn about 1 thing or the other is because we love our club and are angry at the way things are, trust me we will have less complaints if things are not this bad, no one likes to put other down for no just cause, hopefully things improve for this team and stop our complaints.
    I dont feel Pepe doesn’t worthy of the transfer, I dont feel letting Ramsey leave was a mistake, I will never moarn about Ozil leaving, I will never moarn if AUBA leave just like Fab, RVP etc, I will only complain and be bitter if we don’t have on and off-field plans for lives without them,
    From what I see so far MA is planning for life without Ozil, I know some are complaining of lack of creativity in the middle of park, that’s there life, I wouldnt be part, since I know what’s happening, hopefully we can get 2 players to strengthen the mf by summer

    1. Pepe must not be made the scapegoat for Bellerin’s failings. Juve and Bayern M have higher thoughts about Hecuba than I. Let one of them have him for some good bread.

  2. We forced Arsene out of the club because he had lost touch with reality and our downward spiral had started. That was one good decision the club took and the second was never to invite him back.
    If Ramsey was that good a player, he would not be warming Juve’s bench and think of coming back home after one season. He delayed the signing and when we had enough, he wanted to sign. Good player but not great and as age is catching he would not have brown better.
    Regarding Ozil, deliver on the pitch and the training ground, then complain. As one fan mentioned, 19 assists 5 years back is all what some people can talk about today? Then better we discuss Henry and Ian Wright!!
    And this Ozil player – had issues with the German national coach/team, did nothing worth it either for Wenger or Emery or Freddie or Arteta. If at all he had those 19 assists, it was due to the ability of Sanchez to grab those feeble passes and score. Sanchez made him look good.RM found him surplus luxury and got rid of him and went to win many things.
    We don’t blame Ozil for anything, except that as a pro he should make himself available with the best of his ability, just like we salaried persons .
    do every morning when we sign in to our job! We have gone backwards due to the stupidity of the Wenger era regime – Xhaka, Laca, Ozil, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Kolasinac, Mustrafi which has depleted our funds leading to basement buys like Luiz, Cedric and the like. How many times this needs to be mentioned?
    As regards to Pepe, at least he makes himself available for match days, but he has to get to his head that it is not his fault he is here.It can be demoralizing when Emery went for Zaha and mentioned that he preferred him, Pepe at times shows his brilliance.He will come good next season, at least I hope he will. And neither is Bellerin a confidant RB either. So to save one useless player (Mesut Ozil), let us not unsettle another younger player who has the potential and will improve with time.

    1. @loose cannon:I have to disagree with you on AW last years,you believe that’s when the spiraling down started when in fact what he was doing was stopping it ,ok we weren’t challenging for top spot but we weren’t that far from CL football and yes with few more additions he would have brought it back,UE in his first season with AW’s team got us to a European final and missed CL qualification by the smallest of margins,it is in his 2nd season when he tried to put his mark on the team by buying wrong and letting go of Ramsey who he said when getting the job he was going to be the player he was going to build the team around him that things started to fall apart so how can you blame AW also had he played Ramsey earlier when he got back from injury we would have got that 4th spot that I am sure of it!

      1. no and not until we sweep out the trash he left behind and you know who they are

    2. I share your views on Bellerin as not a confident RB to play a role like Ashley Cole because of his pace. Unfortunately HB doesn’t seem to have come back from injury the same.
      Arteta as manager in my view was a cheap option. I still believe with a better coordination at the back with support from Midfield defensive mentality on the right flank , Mustafi has the capability. 2 bad mistakes by Luiz has almost obliterated him. I have a change of mind on him. He has leadership influence and experience at the back. He must be less adventurous and compliant.

    1. I agree completely. Bellerin is not in the right position. Creating problems and making the offensive get behind our defense. They have place so much reliance of his pace. That seems to have been taken away sadly by his long injury period.
      I would trade him.

  3. In the first place I would never blame any player for another player failure that’s not making sense and I can only blame players when they don’t do there job except if there’s a good reason for not doing it,as for bellerin considering his long term injury only an ingrate fan or someone who doesn’t understand football will blame him as for me I suggest we stick with him and give him regular game time till this campaign is over already things can’t get worse more than this for us at this stage so if he did not get back to his form or show sign of improvement then I won’t complain if we look for his replacement before new season starts, and as for Pepe if anyone still think he’s not a quality player by now or he didn’t worth what we offer to get him from Lille then they are just bluffing because in the first place six different teams go for Pepe and almost all of them are ready to pay that same amount we paid for him and you can’t tell other teams are also bad in doing transfer and besides pepe as shown us he got quality in him and he showed his class and worth in a lot of games in our current squad there’s only two players doing better than Pepe and it’s Aubameyang and Leno apart from this two players he’s doing better than the rest when you consider he’s New to the league, team, and atmosphere of our team now will drop even CR7 and Messi game with all there quality, so I will patiently wait till we sign more quality players and start New season

    1. He’s had over 2 years since he recovered from his injury. How much time do you suggest we give him. 20yrs?

      1. Thanks for this an example how fans lie to suit own agenda
        He returned this season in September from 9 months out
        So not even a year
        Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story lol

        1. I’m talking about when he had a long spell injury in the draw against Bournemouth on new year’s day 2 or3 years before wenger was sacked. He came back from that injury and he has never been the same ever since.

  4. Dan people might label it sentiments, bit I agree with everything you’ve said.
    The hypocrisy as fans, the entitlement, the constantly looking for scapegoats has been an issue for Arsenal fans… From Giroud, to Ramsey, to Iwobi, Ozil all thru, to Xhaka and also like you I fear someone new will be wear the crown soon.
    It’s been one cancer eating Arsenal fans, making sure we pick a player and feed off negatively about them till the whole aura turns depressive, then we cry foul for losing players who fight against it

    1. The difference is that Giroud, Ramsey, Iwobi and Xhaka although not talented, gave/give their best when on the ground, they played with passion, desire, self respect and for glory of the club.Their best was / is / may never be our best expected.Those ridiculing Iwobi, Ramsey and even Xhaka are mostly from the Ozil fan club trying to make them look bad to save their idol. Ozil I fear to say is the opposite, never plays with passion, desire, self respect and for the glory of the club. He just vanishes when required most. Three head coaches cannot be wrong is 12 months, speak and write anything the apologists wish too, it will never enter his head to play for the club’s glory. Today, each and every pundit (I mean real guys who have been on the football ground playing competitive football) is criticizing him for his attitude, and only a few here think that he is the only one right and every other person (coach/player/pundit/fan) is wrong about him. This article starts with blaming us for calling out Ozil and concludes with Pepe and Bellerin, two players who play to their best ability. Pepe’s goals have been crucial for us unlike that one fluke goal against the toons some months back. Hate to use the “c” word, but the Ozil fan club are the spoilt brats in my opinion and hopefully they too will leave once their idol leaves finally us in 2021 and the real fans who care for the club remain.

      1. 😂😂
        Your whole post is bashing fans because the didn’t like Iwobi Ramsey etc etc etc etc
        But you obviously don’t like Ozil (going by why childish name )but that’s ok because why opinion of players is what counts .

        1. That really p****s me off… being told you’re not a ‘real fan’ because you like Ozil!! I’ll be renewing my membership, will go when I can and hopefully within the next 5ish years, I’ll be offered a s/t…. but I’m not a real fan 🙄🙄🙄

          1. Sue, I agree wholeheartedly; any fan has the right to support a favourite player, whether others agree or not.
            I may disagree with what you say but defend your right to say it.

          2. Saka signs new deal!!!!!

            Sue, it just goes to show what level of credibility one puts on a post like that.

            Just rise above the nonsense and continue supporting the club, as you and I will when he leaves, with our time, commitment and money.
            Words are cheap, actions are so more important.

            What about Saka?😁

          3. Thanks, Ken… 👍👍 spot on!!
            I’m so happy about it… a great day for AFC!! What a player…. and he’s ours!!!

          4. It’s cool.Sue
            I like Ozil and I put my knowledge up against his any day to prove you can like Ozil and be a fan

          5. Sue, not to offend you or anyone, some fans are putting player over club and that irritates me too. I am a fan of the club and for the club and that includes Ozil and Xhaka too. I do wish the boy the very best every time he walks onto the ground but each time he is a let down to himself first, club next and fans in all. Those glorifying 2015 stats need to walk up from their slumber. If the head coach deems him unfit for the match, respect the coach and criticize the attitude of the player for not making it to the coach’s plan. How many coaches do we need to change? Better we let go of one player rather than the club lose its finances and prestige.Support the player who has the interest of the club first and foremost.

          6. Ah yes @kstix
            The Nigerian pirlo ,who could forget that wonder boy ,the good old days ,the times he had me out of my seat with him tripping over his own shoelaces and hitting his shots out for throwings ,dam I miss them days .

          7. Igot.. I never put a player before the club… I’m an Arsenal fan!! I get fed up with all the digs and having opinions rammed down my throat. Just because my opinion/likes/dislikes differ to yours/others doesn’t make it right or wrong…you know people are allowed to have an opinion and I wish others would appreciate that before harping on 24/7 but no they’re right end of… their way or no way and it drives me mental…
            Fyi I’ve always said Ozil shouldn’t be on that wage, I don’t agree with it, but we offered, he accepted… what can we do?! Anyway happy, very happy with the win tonight!! What a day!

    2. Eddie, I agree 100%.

      I really enjoy Dan’s articles, as they always address the situation, show the problem and give the solution in every single case.
      He recently submitted an article concerning mental health issues and it was met with broad understanding and agreement.
      Pious hands were rung and we all vowed to be more constructive and contrite in our responses.

      This article and some of the responses show just how quickly some forget.

      It seems we should have got rid of Tierney, Holding, Chambers and Martinelli, because they are long term injuries, while Bellerin is still working his way back to full fitness, amid the timeout for the coronavirus.

      It took klopp five years of nothing to be where he is today, yet here we have the same fans who troll our players, questioning Mikel Arteta’s results after just six months ( with the virus in between).

      Pepe is starting to show his full potential, Bellerin is getting meaningful games under his belt and Tierney and Holding are showing that, given the time and patience, we have excellent players who need the support of the club and the fanbase, not the constant barrage of criticism that does nothing to help anyone.
      Nice one Dan.

      1. Wish you lot had stood up for iwobi the same way u fight for ozil. Or it’s OK to criticise every other player but ozil. The double standards on here sometimes is quite baffling. If a player is not putting in a good shift consistently, he gets criticised because at the end of the day, the player not the fans gets paid to put in a good shift. If you suck at your job on a regular basis, do you expect your boss to pat you on the back and tell you it’s gonna be fine? Or you get fired?

        1. Kstix, I really do hope your not including me in that post?

          I have only criticised one player, while he’s been at our club and that was Mustafi… MA has proved how much a diehard fan knows!!

          The only other player I have questions about, is Luiz and his new contract, MA will probably prove me wrong again.
          While a player is at our club, doesn’t bring it into disrespect, wears our shirt and conducts himself properly (no smoking in the showers or inhaling laughing gas) he has my support.

          Iwobi passes all those criteria for me and he left our club knowing that he had the fans best wishes.

  5. You are covering an awful lot of issues in one article. There is a lot I agree with in the reply from Loose Cannon and he managed to be concise.

    I am sorry that Hector has lost his edge since the injury but to make him a scapegoat – no I don’t think so.

    This season has been particularly difficult with 2 managers and Freddie in the interim period. The final weeks of Emery were unbelievably toxic and feelings ran high amongst us all. It did made some fans more vocal against certain players but a lot of that is borne out of frustration.

  6. That’s 11 goals directly involved with in his first season. In a not so good overall season. Those aren’t the worst stats you’ll see for a new winger, if he adds a couple or so more and keeps improving each season then people will look back and it won’t be too bad looking, have seen worse.

    Pepe, one very good thing with the player is his set-piece game, if it’s lined up he’s got good concentration levels.

    And because he’s new to England I will always give him the benefit of any doubt.

    Has he looked our most expensive player ever, well, I didn’t expect him to be like that within his first season, it is a team sport people sometimes forget to remember. Another good aspect about Pepe’s game, this might be just me but I doubt it, does anyone else feel that Pepe could play up top on his own once he adds some upper body strength, if Auba leaves or if Marti wants to stay midfield I think Pepe when he gets more acquainted could possibly have some joy down that role.

  7. OT:I don’t know if MA follows just arsenal but yesterday or the day before,he said in an interview that Ozil not playing has nothing to do with how much he earns,his contract situation….but because of injury and when not selected it is for sporting reasons and nothing else,so to the people accusing him of doing the board dirty job or disliking Ozil and other ridiculous conspiracy theories you have your answer now!

  8. I don’t disagree with you, Dan. But to infer that the Arsenal fans are looking for “scapegoats” is a little insulting really. We are just like any other fan base who want to see a their beloved football club being ran in a way that “proper” and fair.

    When Arsenal moved to the Emirates, it was done so because the club were unable to challenge against the best (financially). We needed a bigger stadium to increase seating and revenue. We did that. However, it was all a lie. We sold our best (some for very little) and settled for less (4th will do) and the silverware yeas faded into memory.

    Yes, the majority did want Wenger out. And rightly so. He had been caught up by other managers in his specialist ways and was even being left in their dust. We were stale and the performances and results were suffering. The players he bought in were sub-standard. In many cases they would not get a look in at a second division club. Let alone in the EPL.

    I never condone picking out individuals to blame. What happened to Xhaka (and his family) was the act of mindless scumbags. Not fans. However, and I have said this before. The club are putting these players into these situations and as scapegoats because the fans are ever growing frustrated by the “Amateur” approach in team management and because of the lack of “proper” investment where the club has needed it for more than a decade! The investment we were told would see Arsenal compete with the best!

    No, fans are not looking for a scapegoat. They are looking for the club to realise they are out of touch with the them. And more importantly, out of touch with the modern game.

    Blame the club, not the players. Never blame the fans!!!

      1. Thanks folks!

        It”s all from the heart and I know a lot of us Gooners feel the same..

        😁 🤙👍

    1. Best comment I’ve seen on this article GunneRay – and I’ve just read them all up to 4.30pm

  9. Very good response Loose Cannon.Dan , your heart is in the right place but I’m beginning to think you are taking the multitude of issues concerning Arsenal players too seriously.Relax , shake your head and smile when you read some of the drivel which appears from what is a small minority of fans who “contribute” to this site.By and large, most of the responses from our fans are thoughtful and interesting.I may not agree with the sentiments expressed but at the end of the day supporters are entitled to their opinion whether it concurs with your own views of otherwise.Sometimes it helps to make a judgement on the age of the offending contributor who may be a keen and rather young and naive person who has not had the benefits of a sound education nor real experience of life.Your doing a good job Dan,don’t let “silly buggers” get you down.

  10. Just to quickly sum up, Giroud, Ramsey and Iwobi are now warming benches of their respective clubs, so the fans were right on those. Ozil has been dropped by our last teo caoaches, so the fans were right on them. And just to get to the title of the article. Bellerin is a weak player who has never reached anywhere near what was expected of him and yet again the fans who say he is poor are right. And all the players mentioned are involved in the period of this club where we are sinking like a stone. There is no defence of Bellerin because he cant defend, you only have to look at the way he plays to see how much he struggles to impose himself on anything or anyone.

    1. Oh and regarding xhaka and mustaffi, their lack of ability and lack of mental strength is their weakness, not the fans getting on their backs. They cant hack the prem or the pressure and are not good enough.

      1. As far as Pepe is concerned, he is becoming our goto player and probably influencing our games more than most.

    2. How does Ramsey and Giroud not getting into better teams prove they can’t get into ours ?
      You seem to pat the club on the back for these decisions yet we are 10th , an indication that these decisions have not worked
      Oh and telling someone they hope your baby gets cancer is nothing to do with a footballer dealing with pressure

      1. Unkindness and saying such dreadful things about a player’s baby utterly appals me and embarrasses me as a human being and Arsenal fan

        Having an opinion about a game of football is one thing but there is no place for cruelty

        Footballers do have to develop a thicker skin to cope with the pressure but only for their performance. Thise perpetrators are about as base as it gets

  11. He is a little lazy ass. Niles was destroyed by everyone here for not being good enough

    Then used Chambers to complain same way.

    They no RB and even though, problem was Pepe not defending his man. Leaving RB with 2 players.

    Bellerin is not able to rush forward, has to deal with 2 players and a shaky CB pair..

    He didn’t went from best RB in EPL to zero. Shows how much many here don’t know anything about football.

  12. Bellerin was terrible before Pepe even arrived, so that’s that answered. Furthermore, how does Pepe affect Bellerin’s ability to pass?

  13. Bellerin doesn’t have the balls to play top level football anymore. He used to be better than Trent Alexander-Arnold but then he decided that dressing up and being stylish is better than actually passing the ball forward.

    I’ve seen enough of him honestly. I’d rather have a makeshift right back than suffer on with Bellerin.

  14. Bellerin seems to be complacent with his spot in the team. The lack of competition for spots in the lineup hurts the team.
    If we had a RB to challenge him maybe his game would improve.
    Lastly, as a RB perhaps his strength should be defending rather than pace. In all the years he’s been here, how much has his defending improved?

  15. To Dan Smith and others, who continue to bring up Ramsey running down his contract and leaving for Juventus on a free: “How much do you believe Arsenal should have offered Aaron Ramsey to entice him to sign a new contract?”
    “Could Arsenal afford such wages, given the experience with Mesut Ozil and given he now sits on the bench at Juventus, what would his resale value be?
    Time will tell, because Juventus will be trying to sell Ramsey this summer to recoup what they have paid out to him.

    1. I believe if you don’t offer him a contract you make sure you replace him
      Being on the bench at Juve doesn’t prove we were correct , it proves they have better options then us
      Who better in our current midfield

      1. finally, someone with the right answer. Ramsey walks back into our midfield with ease. Juve midfield CANNOT be compared to Arsenal’s. Rodri is benched at City, by that logic, he is not good enough for Arsenal midfield.

  16. I dont think this is a real issue honestly. nobody is scapegoating Bellerin. He’s just not that good and hasn’t been for a while. People seem to throw the scapegoat word around whenever people have opinions about players they like. We see it with people who like Ozil all the time, who suddenly get defensive, and exaggerate that ppl who who dont like his performances are blaming him for everything that is wrong at Arsenal, when really we are just pointing out their performances are not good. There is no secret agenda against any player at Arsenal, there are just players that are not good. If they were good, we would not be 10th.

  17. For some reason I think Dan Smith watches Arsenal matches with his TV upside down. First u defend ozil, and now bellerin.. We all saw how AMN and pepe connected very well against a strong Sheffield side that I started to wonder the same questions I’ve always asked on why Arteta is benching AMN for bellerin in the first place. Who are you going to defend next Dan Smith? David Luiz? I understand we are all entitled to our opinions but boy, you are reaching with ’em articles.

    1. Arteta isn’t benching anyone, the man just doesn’t want to play rb because he is so full of himself so he can get his ass on the bench and stay there. I very much prefer young players with the right attitude like saka and martenelli.

    2. Then you havnt read article mate
      I say hes lost his pace after injury
      I even say I would sell him
      The argument I make is should he be blamed for Pepe failing ?
      In terms of Ozil
      I believe a managers job is to get the best out of talent not just leave them out
      If you leave Ozil out I don’t expect to then watch a midfield with zero creativity
      In conclusion mate I will never condone picking on one player for own agenda
      So if we are going to pick on Ozil for not being creative , then why does the rest get a free pass ?

      1. I did read the article Dan. Pace is not all that is required for a RB to possess, he must be able to read the right winger’s movements, defend and put in good crosses occasionally, bellerin mostly passes back or to the side many times when pepe has opened up for him. He’s too scared to take on opponents. Just take a look at saka and Tierney and how they are not afraid to venture forward. Bellerin for some reason has lost his glow and everything that made Barcelona want him before that game against Bournemouth where he got injured. Every player is blamed equally when they don’t put in a good shift. There are no favourites. As good as Leno or aubameyang are, still make mistakes here and there but there pros outweigh their cons. Players that get regularly picked on are those that regularly make mistakes and a consistently poor. Ozil’s inclusion or exclusion from the team atm makes no difference in terms of creativity but in defensive terms, having other midfielders who can tackle and track back to defend is why I can understand Arteta leaving ozil out of the squad

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